Monday, March 17, 2014

facebook?

About two years ago, I deleted my Facebook account. I had grown weary of watching drama unfold via a computer screen, reading the opinions and statements of people that I could guarantee would never be spoken by these people in face to face interactions and constantly denying friend requests from people I would not consider friends. After deleting my account, I never once regretted it. And I think that says a lot. It was really more of a relief to be outside of it all. How and why had a website taken over so much of my life? Why did I believe my online presence was so important? In my mind I thought "Oh, people far away will want to see what I'm doing." "There is no other way I'd stay in contact with such and such." "The pictures, what will I do without the pictures!?" 

The reality was, when I deleted my Facebook life, some close friends cared, but the rest of the world? No fucks did they give. The world kept turning. My social life suffered naught. The important people used phone calls, Skype, emails and texts messages to keep in touch. And that was awesome. It forced certain friendships to develop in a different ways and other friendships to fall away. No regrets. Last month I got a writing gig for an online magazine (check it out!), the editor asked if I would open a new Facebook account. She would use Facebook as a forum to communicate with all of the writers at the same time. Also, an online presence is important for aspiring writers, artists, etc.

I agreed. At first I was just going to use it solely for magazine communications, but then I thought "...all or nothing!" and I went for it. I began clicking every friend suggestion that was put before me. In a few days over 300 people from every life I have lived reappeared. There was a bit of shell shock. People whom I hadn't been "friends" with before I deleted my account, I now allowed. Ha. All or nothing! Lives spilling onto the internets for all to see. Terrifying. I was excited though. So much to catch up on - so many people to rediscover! 

And yet, I was fairly disappointed. Sure, there were some it was fun to find and have done/are doing exciting and adventurous things. But the majority were the saddest carbon copies of each other. Oh look, I got married! Oh look, I had a kid! Oh look, I had another kid! Here's a picture of my kid! And another one! And another one! ... Don't get me wrong, I love a cute kid, but people, nature designed kids to be cute. I'll be impressed when they're 20, aren't fuck ups and are contributing to society. Until then, one picture a month is more than enough. Also, get a hobby! Stop aspiring to be the exact same as all of the other terribly lame people and do something awesome! Take all those spare moments you use your damn Facebook and that adorable kid and show them what being a great person looks like. Volunteer somewhere. Visit old people and let them love on your child. Spend a few bucks and buy a coffee for a stranger or give it to someone buying gas. 

But I digress, and give you my conclusion about Facebook after a month of being back: 
1- It is fun to be back in contact with a handful of people I otherwise wouldn't be.
2 - It is not fun to watch stay at home moms use it to circle jerk each other "omg! Your kids are so cute!" "Omg! Thax! So are yours!" - again I say, get a hobby.
3 - Teenagers are vile and need some serious parenting and social network monitoring.
4 - The majority of whom I am actually curious about and/or are doing anything noteworthy, well, they're rarely posting on Facebook.
5 - The cool kids all got fat or weird or boring or the wonderful trifecta of all three. And that pleases me and reaffirms every move I've made in life that has brought me to where I am today.


Cheers, Facebook! You are keeping me entertained and I'm okay with it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Spring is in our sights!

When I first arrived and began meeting Chicagoans they would say "Oooh, this is going to be your first Chicago winter?? I hope you're ready for cold." I was even given a newspaper article that described what truly made a Chicagoan and described the proper attire and essential tools to survive in the cold and snow. I prepared myself for the worst.

Then the cold started setting in. I still didn't feel like it was all that bad. I was still biking, still socializing and still getting by with the small winter wardrobe I'd accumulated. In the beginning of December folks said "this is about as cold as it gets. We'll get some cold spells, but if you're still biking in this, you'll do just fine here." They warned of storms and cold and snow, but spoke confidently that winter wouldn't be all that bad.

Enter: Polar Vortex #1

As I'm sure you all heard from the media, it snowed here and it got cold. Real, real, real cold. And it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. I had 3 weeks off of work, 2 for holiday and the 3rd because of weather. I experienced windchills as cold as -45 degrees and it became normal for the temperature to go no higher than 0. Not 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which is freezing. That would be 0 degrees Fahrenheit; 32 degrees BELOW freezing. And for weeks that became normal, give or take 10 degrees on either side. And when it is 0 degrees, 10 degrees actually feels warmer. When it is 10 degrees and you get into the 20s, it's a wonderfully glorious feeling. Who knew I would ever find this normal?

According to an article from WBEZ.org from Dec. 1, 2013, to Feb. 6, 2014, the lowest temp registered at O'Hare was -16 F. During the same period, the area received 68.7 inches of snow. Since that article, we've gotten another 6-8 inches of snow. The real problem lies in the fact that we live in the city. This isn't Alaska or Minnesota where folks live a slower pace and are content to be boxed up inside for weeks, even months on end. No, we are the third largest city in the country, people don't want to stop doing anything, ever. Patience is short, time is valuable and being able to get from point A to point B is crucial to most peoples lives. At least they think so. Due to that, people haven't been happy. As a whole, Chicagoans are glad to grumble to those around them about their most recent negative experience with the snow - I spent 45 minutes shoveling out my garage or I waited an hour for a bus in this shit and so on. It has, however, been kind of a fun common ground to stand on with practically every person you chat with.

All of that being said, we're on the other side of that. So it seems. There are 27 days left of actual Winter and you can feel the change! 20s-30s is what looks to be the norm in the forecast and everyone is pleased with that. As Spring nears, you can feel the mood change. As a whole, the city grumbled together, and as a whole, the city will rejoice together. We are going to see a collective rebirth unlike one I've ever seen, I imagine. People are going to party and it's not going to stop until next Winter. It will be fucking splendid.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Farewell For Now

Glorious: having a striking beauty or splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.
That is how I would describe my life in my final few weeks on the island. Granted, this entire year has been quite special and has evoked many feelings of delighted admiration. However, my farewell (for now) to my family, friends and home in the magnificent Puget Sound will go down in history as one of the greatest farewells I've ever experienced thus far.

I was fortunate enough to be around for the start of school for my nieces and nephew. I got to watch my youngest niece walk into her first day of kindergarten! As well as my 7 year-old niece begin 2nd grade. My 13 year-old niece begin 8th grade and my 15 year-old nephew begin 10th grade! I remember each of them being so tiny, so vividly. They're all growing so quickly and are such funny, imaginative, smart, sweet kids.
My last day on the island I swam roughly 3.5 miles with my incredible little brother - from the island to the mainland.

Wearing wetsuits and paced by two boats we began our swim. We got into the water from the island at 12:22pm and stepped onto the shore in Steilacoom at 3:22pm. Exactly 3 hours! Killed it. We had two boats pacing us; one on either side and we didn't cross paths with one jellyfish. We had one seal swim around about a hundred yards away, but it kept at bay and soon disappeared into the great unknown. The swim proved to be fairly easy. Salt water definitely made us more buoyant and helped our pace. We didn't once stop for a break or have any problems. At the end of the 3 hours we were certainly ready to be finished, but were also very pleased to have made it without incident!

I couldn't conjure up a better way to leave the island. It felt brilliant to have accomplished the task we'd talking about and had been working up to all summer. Little brother is a beast! We had a blast.
I tried to attach a few pictures, but I'm updating this via my phone... so I have no idea if this will work.

This was the first time, in quite some time, that I've spent such an extended period back on the island. It was such a gift to be surrounded by my family and to be reminded of all of the greatness we share both together and separately.

It was a summer of much growth and I was pleased to leave on such a happy and harmonious note.
Delaware/Maryland/Pennsylvania have welcomed me very kindly and I am excited to soak in all that surrounds me for the next ...however long...

Fall is coming quickly and balance is making its way as the equinox nears. And so is baby Ellie! We're eagerly awaiting her arrival and she is already one very loved little girl. She'll have a very excited crowd cheering the moment she makes her first appearance. Yay Ellie!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Noteworthy Adventures

This summer has been outta this world. The adventures I've been on have been abundant.

As I prepare to leave this lovely place, I am reveling in many of the great things I've done.

I kayaked around Seattle - one of my favorite things to do in the city. I hiked up Mailbox Peak with a propane tank on my back. I camped in the Columbia Gorge, hiked to waterfalls, swam in the icy mountain water and bathed in beauty of those giant mountains.

Last weekend I married a very happy couple and attended the longest reception I have ever been a part of. People who attended this wedding span the entire length of my life. To clarify, there was such a splatter of island folks, that there were people from every year of my life. Easily the most... informative event I have possibly ever attended. Phew.

To properly say farewell to this crazy-beautiful island, I will swim to the mainland. My bags will be packed and taken across the water via ferry. Little brother and I, however, will take a longer trip swimming to the mainland. We're estimating it to be about a four hour swim, if weather, currents and jellyfish all play in our favor. Fingers crossed.

My 7 year old niece learned how to swim this summer. What an exciting moment! She swam to the deep dock at the swimming hole without floaties or a life jacket. It is quite the rite of passage as an island child. She beamed with pride and so did I. She's been so brave this summer and her courage has paid off, because she's exploring a new ability and freedom. It's very encouraging thing to watch.

Summer is winding down and everyone is preparing for a shift in life. I'm preparing for a few significant changes myself. Life for me will shift, and although I know this in my head, it's a different story when that change fully comes about. I'm looking forward to the clarity that will hopefully come from it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Island Summer

Beach babe.
Summer bliss.
Four girls on four swings.
Claire Bear swinging!
Bella pumping herself to the moon!
Luna coming at me fast!
I've been back home on the island for a week now. It has proven to be wildly surreal. In this short week I have seen at least a dozen, if not twenty folks that I have not seen in five to ten years. It being summer, as well as the holiday weekend, former islanders of all sorts have come back to the place we all still consider home.

Typically I am not a fan of seeing people I haven't seen in years, only to catch up hearing "I had a kid" or "I got married" or "I got a divorce" or all three of those. Generally if I haven't stayed in contact with someone, it's because I don't want to. However, it's different out here this summer. It could be ten years since you've seen someone and because you're islanders back on the island in the summer, there is a precious commonality. Island summers are pure perfection.

With two fresh water lakes, three swimming parks, endless parks and trails, there is no reason to be inside or bored here in the summer. The weather has been perfection. Cool mornings, with clouds burning off after lunch. I've been able to spend most of my days with my nieces. The girls are getting so big and Shamarye is so grown up, he has a job! So I barely even get to spend time with him. Spending summer days with the girls has brought back so many happy summer time childhood memories.

I remember... Endless days in the lake. Wishing we could spend all day in the water. Always wanting to go to The Swimming Hole over Interlachen (the park down the street from our house). Wanting to not wear shoes when walking anywhere. Sleeping outside under the stars. Walking to and from the store with numerous other children.

I remember that which my nieces and nephew are currently experiencing. It's been a very long time since I've been out on the island without an agenda, particularly in the summer time. I had forgotten how beautiful it is here. I forgot how much I love swimming. I get to swim across the lake alone, when no one else is around and it's perfectly calm. I get to take night swims with my brother. I really couldn't be more happy. Life is good. Really, really good.
The Swimming Hole!
Bella and Luna as classic Islanders.


Interlachen
The beach. 
Formerly, The Swing.